What’s next.

Chris Brogan just asked one of his annoying twitter questions:

How do you decide that comes next?

Why is it annoying? Because I was sitting at my desk, waiting for our daughter, trying to decide what comes next. I find it annoying when I discover him sitting in my brain, or on my shoulder.

But it is a wonderful question as I try to decide whether to write a post, clean my desk, go check on the computer that is supposed to be updating in the office next door (after spending the afternoon trying to get it working), update one of two web projects I started yesterday, list the other things I need to do before the weekend, make a call, read something, talk to God about one of the many people who have had a really bad day today, or just spend time bouncing from Google Reader to email account one to email account two to twitter to flickr to reader.

In other words, there are an incredible number of ways to fill the time slot called “next” without moving far from this chair. But one of them has to be picked, whether by default or by decision. (I know, default is a decision, but humor me.)

What I most would like to be able to say that I use as a framework for deciding is something noble, like changing the world, or changing lives. As I result, I would say, “Next I’m going to check out the computer because without it Janna won’t be able to work and she is about changing the lives of children which is changing the world.” Or I would say, “Next I’m going to clean my desk because I need to find three emails and a bill which will help other people get their work done.”

But what I did is realize that Chris handed me a blog post.

I decide based on habit.

So if I want to be more focused, whether on doing or being, whether on being effective or efficient, whether on being more caring or compassionate or consistent or even more like Christ, I need to look at my habits, my routines of action. And in the process decide whether they align with what I believe to be how I should decide.

Because what I want to do is…

7 responses to “What’s next.

  1. Intriguing how Chris’s question led you to doing what was next – writing this post, which delayed you in deciding what was next before Chris posed the question. I’m curious: which of the above did you decide was next?

    (Did that make any sense once outside of my tired brain?)

  2. Great answer!

    Yes, we decide what to do next based on habit. You hit it home with that one. 🙂

  3. Glenda – that’s a great question and it does make complete sense. As best I remember, what I was wanting to do was write. So this was perfect.

    What i did after the post was check the computer next door.

    Thanks Stephen. I wish I had planned it rather than just finding it as I wrote.

  4. I love your characterization of Chris’ “annoying” Twitter questions. Truly, sometimes I read them and think “Chris, stop making me THINK so much!” But honestly, it’s a gift and I’m thankful he shares it with us and inspires us (you, in this case) to write great blog posts. Cheers – and you are so right about the power habit has in our lives. Trying to channel that power into some better habits at the moment.

  5. lara – my feeling exactly some days. Okay, most days he asks those questions.

    Thanks!

  6. The word “align” jumps out at me from your post, Jon. When you throw that in there regarding our habits, it still ends up boiling down to our mission, our priorities, our passion being the driving force behind our best decision-making. We won’t always hit the mark, but there’s something to aim at when deciding what comes next.

    (Right now, I don’t think this “next” that I’m doing was born out of an effort at alignment—ooooh…that goes a whole other direction: At what point am I dealing with a moral issue relative to my decisions about “next”? How far from alignment can I be off before a decision could be labeled “wrong”? Or is that not the point at all? Not trying to go on any guilt trips here or take anyone along with me, but the thought process simply traveled that way…

  7. Amy –
    I’m going to have to come back to this again, i can see, after I think more, too.

    As your comment illustrates, the habits of mind we cultivate are significant for what’s next, because we can’t always be intentionally intentional.

    For example, as nancy and I were walking and talking about this last night, we didn’t have to plan each step. The walking part was a habit. But that habit had to be learned (both the habit of taking walks and the sheer habit of taking a step).

    There are countless times in a day that we just pick up the next thing. But what is behind that? How have we cultivated a habit of mind, of body, of soul?

    (See, I’m not talking about habits as bad, merely as patterns of behavior.)

    More later, on most of these stations.